CHAPTER 5
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives in Research and Education

INTRODUCTION

Minerals, as noted throughout this report, are important to the basic infrastructure of the nation, its productivity, and its economy. Therefore it is vital to evaluate every mineral’s criticality with some regularity and with appropriate data collection and analysis so that decision making regarding critical minerals can occur in a time frame suitable to alleviate potentially disruptive restrictions on mineral availability. Because criticality is dynamic, the criticality of a mineral is really only a snapshot of a mineral’s applications and of the risks to its supply at a given time; mineral criticality can be effectively evaluated only in the context of a continuous stream of baseline data and information.

This chapter discusses the need for the federal government to collect data on minerals, provide analysis of these data (including mineral criticality), and disseminate the data and analyses in a publicly accessible format. The chapter begins with a historical overview of the federal context for statistical data collection and mineral data collection, and follows with a catalogue of public and private mineral databases that can be used



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 169
ChAPTER 5 Mineral Information  and Possible  Initiatives in  Research and  Education INTRODUCTION Minerals, as noted throughout this report, are important to the basic in- frastructure of the nation, its productivity, and its economy. Therefore it is vital to evaluate every mineral’s criticality with some regularity and with appropriate data collection and analysis so that decision making regarding critical minerals can occur in a time frame suitable to alleviate potentially disruptive restrictions on mineral availability. Because criticality is dynamic, the criticality of a mineral is really only a snapshot of a mineral’s applica- tions and of the risks to its supply at a given time; mineral criticality can be effectively evaluated only in the context of a continuous stream of baseline data and information. This chapter discusses the need for the federal government to col- lect data on minerals, provide analysis of these data (including mineral criticality), and disseminate the data and analyses in a publicly accessible format. The chapter begins with a historical overview of the federal con- text for statistical data collection and mineral data collection, and follows with a catalogue of public and private mineral databases that can be used 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY by policy makers, the public, and industry to make informed decisions about a mineral or group of minerals. With mineral criticality as a primary theme, the committee then suggests the types of information and research that could best enable informed decisions about mineral policies affecting the national economy and infrastructure. Finally, because the production and analysis of this information require trained professionals, the chapter surveys the state of education related to mineral resources. MINERAL DATA AND THE FEDERAL STATISTICAL PROGRAM The decision by the federal government to collect mineral data is founded on two themes: (1) public understanding of the importance of collection, analysis, and dissemination of statistical data and information about min- eral use and demand, mineral production and supply, and other aspects of mineral markets; and (2) support at the highest levels of government for collection of mineral statistical data that address the full life cycles of minerals to inform and monitor public policy. Box 5.1 discusses more con- ceptually the justification for federal involvement in collection, analysis, and dissemination of mineral information and in mineral-related research. Historical Perspective The nation’s historical commitment to mineral data collection has been robust, with support from both executive and legislative branches. Mineral data collection has been a recognized part of national policy since at least World War II ( J. Morgan, Jr., personal communication, January 2007). Dur- ing the past several decades, numerous pieces of legislation have affirmed the federal commitment to collect mineral information with a foundation in the importance of minerals to the national economy and national secu- rity. Among them, the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-479) suggested that “the Executive Office shall coordinate the responsible departments and agencies to identify material needs and assist in the pursuit of measures that would assure the 0

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives availability of materials critical to commerce, the economy, and national security.” A report from the Subcommittee on Mines and Mining of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the U.S. House of Representa- tives (U.S. Congress, 1980, pp. 12-13) the same year emphasized further: There have been no less than 20 mineral or material policy studies that have been prepared or commissioned by one governmental agency or another, as well as others prepared for groups outside government. Additional studies have examined at least some part of mineral policy questions. Although many studies reflected some particular outlook or condition, all adopted as a universal start- ing point the national significance of adequate mineral supplies and the importance of a strong domestic industry. All agree, to a greater or lesser extent, that foreign imports provide least-cost benefits to the consumer. At the same time, most see the pitfalls of import dependency and how such dependency forfeits freedom to make political, economic, and defense decisions. All strongly  urge better governmental analytical capability and improved means of  integrating information into a comprehensive picture portraying the  synergistic impacts of governmental policies or actions upon industry  and, beyond that, the broad national interest [italics added]. In more recent reports, recycling and conservation receive more attention and a progressively stronger case is made for increased govern- ment participation in development of long range technological innovation. A 1982 presidential report on minerals also noted the need to improve integration of mineral concerns into the policy process, suggesting that mineral information was useful to guide decisions on the strategic stockpile, land use, tax and tariff, trade, investment, research and development, and environmental protection, among others (Shanks, 1983). Historically, then, a supportive federal view of the need to collect min- eral information has been one part of the overall federal responsibility toward collection of various types of data for public use. As presented in previous chapters, the need for mineral data is no less important today than several decades ago. In fact, the need for more frequent and detailed 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY BOX 5.1 Mineral Information and Research: Why a Federal Role? The need for information and research on minerals, by itself, does not automatically justify federal government activities. As noted by the National Research Council (NRC, 2003, p. 24): After all, in market economies there are natural and strong incentives for private entities producing and consuming minerals to carry out scientific research and to collect and disseminate information that is relevant and necessary for informed decision making. Nevertheless, in several specific circumstances, private markets are likely to yield suboptimal outcomes from the perspective of society as a whole. Specific circumstances that are relevant when considering critical minerals include the following: 1. The need for high-quality information. Informed decisions require good information, whether the decisions are public (government) or private. An important and fundamental role of government in a market economy is to facilitate market activity. It does this in a number of ways, by establishing well-functioning legal and monetary systems and by facilitating the collection and dissemination of information necessary for informed decisions (e.g., economic data in the national income and product accounts). To be sure, there often are private sources of information, but these sometimes are proprietary or unavailable to the public. In other circumstances, the private sector does not collect specific types of information necessary for informed decisions, especially public policy decisions, for the reasons outlined below. 2. Different time and risk preferences. To the extent that private entities give less priority to the distant future than is optimal from society’s perspective, the private market will underprovide information and research with benefits only in the distant future. Similarly, to the extent that private entities have a greater degree of risk aversion than society as a whole, analyses of some critical minerals is at present more acute due to the highly global nature of the mineral market and increased global competition for mineral resources. As part of this commitment to federal collection of min- eral data, very competent mineral data collection and public dissemination occur now through the efforts of the Minerals Information Team, overseen by the Mineral Resources Program (MRP) of the U.S. Geological Survey 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives the private market will underprovide information and research whose benefits are risky or uncertain. Much of the mineral information and research that the committee identifies later in this report as appropriate for federal government involvement is beneficial only over the longer term or, in the case of research, is risky. 3. Provision of public goods. Economists distinguish between two types of goods, private and public. Private goods have the following characteristics: (1) one person’s use of the goods reduces the amount available for someone else (e.g., if one person drinks a bottle of water, another person cannot drink it); and (2) it is easy to exclude people from benefiting from private goods if they do not pay for them (e.g., the convenience store will likely call the police if a person does not pay for bottled water). Most economists believe that these two characteristics of private goods mean that we generally can rely on private markets to supply these goods at appropriate prices and in appropriate quantities. Public goods, on the other hand, are likely to be underprovided by the private sector acting alone because of their characteristics: one person’s use does not reduce the amount available for others; moreover, it is difficult to exclude someone who does not pay for public goods from the benefits provided by those goods. Consider national defense. Once it is provided, one person’s benefit from it does not reduce the degree to which another person benefits, and if national defense were funded through voluntary contributions, it would be difficult to exclude someone who did not contribute to the funding of national defense from its benefits. Mineral information and research are at least partially public goods. Once provided, many people and organizations can benefit without reducing other entities’ benefits, even if they do not pay for the information or research. As a result, there is a crucial role for the federal government to play in facilitating the provision of those types of information and re- search that are largely public, rather than private, in nature. Such provision can be facilitated directly by public agencies, or by universities, or by other nongovernmental organizations. SOuRCE: NRC, 2003, pp. 24-28. (USGS). These mineral data are used widely both by a variety of private concerns and throughout the federal government. However, the commit- tee recognizes a difference in federal definitions of “principal statistical agencies,” whose sole task it is to collect data and federal units such as the Minerals Information Team that are not designated principal statistical agencies but are nevertheless tasked to collect and disseminate data as a 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY part of other mandated duties. The committee suggests that this difference in definition can affect the strength of a given data collection program as a function of resource allocation and overall program visibility and autonomy and discusses these issues below. Federal Statistical Programs and Data Collection The policy of the federal government toward the data and statistics it col- lects and disseminates explicitly acknowledges the role that good statistics play in informed decision making by both public and private sectors. A recent example of the federal policy approach to statistics is excerpted from the 2008 executive budget proposal, under the heading “Strengthening Federal Statistics” (OMB, 2007a, Section 4, p. 37): Federal statistical programs produce key information to inform public and private decision makers about a range of topics of in- terest, including the economy, the population, agriculture, crime, education, energy, the environment, health, science, and transpor- tation. The ability of governments, businesses, and citizens to make appropriate decisions about budgets, employment, investments, taxes, and a host of other important matters depends critically on the ready availability of relevant, accurate, and timely Federal statistics. The U.S. statistical programs are decentralized in nature. Of the more than 70 federal agencies or programs receiving funding to carry out statisti- cal activities, only 13 are considered ‘principal’ federal statistical agencies and are members of the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP). The other 60 or so agencies collect data in conjunction with other mis- sions such as providing services or enforcing regulations. The 13 principal agencies follow (OMB, 2007a, Section 4, p. 38): • Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Department of Commerce • Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Department of Labor • Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Department of Transportation 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives • Census Bureau, Department of Commerce • Energy Information Administration (EIA), Department of Energy • Economic Research Service, Department of Agriculture • National Agricultural Statistics Service, Department of Agriculture • National Center for Education Statistics, Department of Education • National Center for Health Statistics, Department of Health and Human Services • Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Social Security Administration • Statistics of Income, Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury • Science Resources Statistics Division, National Science Foundation These principal statistical agencies received approximately $2.2 bil- lion in FY 2006, which is about 40 percent of the funding for all agencies collecting statistical data (estimated to be $5.4 billion for FY 2007; OMB, 2007b). Agencies or programs that are solely and directly responsible for statis- tical data collection are more likely to be able to develop and maintain an efficient program focused on the types of data necessary to support their missions. This ability is particularly important in order to meet the ICSP performance standards that directly address whether the unit performing the collection of data and distribution of information is effective. Those performance standards are used in completing the administration’s Pro- gram Assessment Rating Tool (PART). Conversely, federal units that have statistical data collection as only one feature of their body of tasks may not be able to maintain consistent resource levels and may lack broader federal program support necessary over the long term to achieve their data collection and dissemination goals or to maintain the important “effective” rating in PART. Furthermore, 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY when a data collection unit is not designated as principal, its mission may be diluted or made subordinate to the overall mission of the agency or department of which it is a part, particularly in situations of constrained resources. From the standpoint of collecting data and statistics on miner- als, the committee finds it significant that none of the 13 principal sta- tistical agencies collects and publishes annual data on minerals and their availability. As previous chapters have demonstrated, minerals are essential natural resources that are intrinsic to the availability and function of an enormous number of consumer goods in the nation and to the general national infrastructure. Lacking somewhat the direct macroeconomic impact that energy has on the nation, minerals nonetheless factor into the overall function and productivity of the country. Critical minerals, in particular, may play very specific roles in the development of different industry sectors and their products. In this regard, the committee found a potential analogue for the concept of principal mineral statistical data collection through the example of the EIA. Box 5.2 reviews the history, purview, and federal role of the EIA, together with its impact on energy policy, due in part, in the committee’s view, to its status as a principal statistical agency. Confidentiality of Federal Survey Information An understanding of the role of data confidentiality in all federal data collection activities is important to acquire a fuller understanding of the basis for federal engagement in collecting data for policy formulation and implementation. Confidentiality of proprietary data by privately and pub- licly owned companies is considered to be a fundamental right, and for some a necessity, in a world economy subject to intense competition. Re- cent affirmation of the need to balance federal data collection with respect for privacy was put forward in the language of the 2008 executive budget proposal (OMB, 2007b, Section 4, p. 37): As the collectors and providers of these basic statistics, the respon- sible agencies act as data stewards—balancing public and private 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives decision makers’ needs for information with legal and ethical ob- ligations to minimize reporting burden, respect respondents’ pri- vacy, and protect the confidentiality of the data provided to the Government. The need to protect the confidentiality of data provided to the federal government and the need to respect respondents’ privacy suggests that the primary mineral data made available to the public (and indeed all fundamental data gathering) be largely conducted in an organized and accountable manner by federal government programs or agencies specifi- cally tasked and qualified to do so; federal programs can collect such data in an unbiased way that ensures the anonymity of the respondents and subsequent use of the data for the public good. Collection of data by the government does not preclude their collection by various nongovernmental entities, including those who do so to satisfy a commercial need for data not collected by government. When nongovernmental entities do collect information, they usually do so in order to satisfy a specific constituency and not necessarily the needs of government to formulate and monitor public policy. Importantly also, even if confidentiality concerns could be guaranteed, the cost of thorough and accurate data collection at a national scale is high and may be excessive for a nongovernmental entity compared to the market value of the data. The principle of data confidentiality adhered to by federal statistical agencies and programs is based on the belief that individuals and busi- nesses will be more likely to give complete and factual answers to surveys when they are assured that their responses will not be used to bring legal or regulatory actions against them. In some instances, particularly where businesses are in highly competitive markets, respondents may fear that disclosure of certain business data to competitors or even customers will result in damage to their business. It is believed that businesses will be more likely to trust government agencies to maintain confidentiality than an association or other nongovernmental entity. Finally, in terms of contrasting a strong governmental statistical role in collection of mineral or other data with the role played by nongovernmen- 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY BOX 5.2 Domestic Energy Information: An Analogue for Mineral Information Collection The oil embargo of 1973 and resulting fluctuations in the nation’s supply and price of oil prompted a congressional response in 1974 through passage of the Federal Energy Administration (FEA) Act. FEA was the first federal agency with a primary responsibility for energy issues, and a key FEA function was the collection, analysis, and dissemination of national and international energy information (u.S. Congress, 1974). As part of its energy information collection procedures, FEA was given data collection responsibility with related enforcement authority for its energy surveys of energy suppliers and major energy consumers. Energy data were to be used for statistical and forecasting activities and analyses such as the structure of the energy supply system, including resource consumption; energy resource reserves, exploration, development, production, transportation, and consumption sensitivities to economic factors, environmental constraints, technological improvements, and substitut- ability of alternate energy sources; and long-term industrial, labor, and regional impacts of changes in patterns of energy supply and consumption. In 1977, the Department of Energy (DOE) replaced the FEA as set forth in Public Law 95-91. The EIA was established as part of DOE to incorporate the information-gathering tasks and functions described for FEA, in addition to the responsibility “. . . for carrying out a central, comprehensive, and unified energy data and information program which will collect, evaluate, assemble, analyze, and disseminate data and information which is relevant to energy resource reserves, energy production, demand, and technology, and related economic and statistical information, or which is relevant to the adequacy of energy resources to meet the demands in the near and longer term future for the Nation’s economic and social needs” (u.S. Congress, 1977). The security of the nation’s energy supply was thus a concept embedded in this public charter. Although located within and working in close collaboration with DOE, the EIA main- tains independence with regard to its work. This concept of independence is embodied in its enabling legislation, mandating that the EIA administrator “shall not be required to obtain the approval of any other officer or employee of the Department [of Energy] in connection with the collection or analysis of any information; nor shall the Administrator be required, prior to publication, to obtain the approval of any other officer or employee of the United States with respect to the substance of any statistical or forecasting technical reports which he [she] has prepared in accordance with law” (u.S. Congress, 1977). With a focus on gathering, analyzing, and forecasting energy information for the 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives public and private sectors, the EIA‘s four program offices cover oil and natural gas; coal, nuclear, electric, and alternate fuels; energy markets and end use; and integrated analysis and forecasting. Four support offices provide the assistance required for effective and efficient dissemination of energy information. EIA works to meet the needs of its congres- sional clients as well as other important customers including state and local governments, federal agencies, industry, and the general public. Particularly interesting to many clients is the product and service line that incorporates time series data based on EIA’s 65 recurring statistical surveys. Other EIA data sources include international information exchanges with individual countries or agencies such as the International Energy Agency. The relationship between the EIA, industry, and other public and private organizations is symbiotic: industry and other organizations rely on the data, analyses, and forecasts disseminated by EIA, and EIA relies on thorough and accurate information from these entities to amalgamate into its national energy information system. The interrelationships of energy, the economy, the environment, and the quality of life of u.S. citizens have led to significant increases in demands for EIA’s information. For example, since 2000 the need for petroleum information has increased as evidenced by greater public demand and inquiries, as well as congressional requests, for information. As a result, the EIA made a decision to elevate the quantity, frequency, and types of petroleum information available to the public. For example, “This Week in Petroleum,” available online at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip.asp, was introduced in 2002 to improve public understanding of EIA’s petroleum data and the many factors affecting petroleum markets. In the committee’s parlance, oil is considered a critical fuel type by the EIA, and the amount and frequency of data collected for this fuel type were increased recently to satisfy public and private demands to plan for and react to potential fluctuations in the petroleum supply. Importantly, although greater need for information may dictate an increase in the frequency of data reporting for distinct fuel types, baseline data collection is always maintained on the other fuel types in EIA’s portfolio. Gaps are difficult or impossible to fill if data collection on a fuel type ceases. Furthermore, while baseline data are important all the time, baseline data collection is most important—yet most difficult—during times of crisis, underscoring the need to maintain good baseline data sources to weather any crisis period. As an independent, federal entity, EIA data are presented in an unbiased manner where statistical and quality standards are followed. Data breakdowns and presentations include full data sets at national levels, by sector or state, and by industry, as well as analy- ses and forecasts. EIA’s analyses and forecasts are interpretations or models of data, and these interpretations or models are only as credible or defensible as the data upon which continued 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY mended role of government regarding minerals in growth markets reflects the fact that many materials in new technological applications have come about through government involvement in research and development to achieve higher performance in new applications. Oftentimes military use alone is insufficient to achieve economic viability of a material without commercial applications as well. Government therefore needs to foster ap- plications that will improve the commercial success of the material in order to ensure its availability at reasonable cost for military applications. One focus in this report has been to put into place a framework for determining mineral criticality, some of which are in a growth phase of development according to definitions presented in the ICAF (2006) report. Finally, the report argues that government’s most significant role relates to breakthrough materials requiring significant research and de- velopment that is high risk and has uncertain rewards. As examples of breakthrough technologies and materials, it cites nanotechnologies, micro- electromechanical systems, and biometrics. The “ventures in breakthrough technologies face development difficulties that require substantial R&D and engineering. Within the materials industry, specific problems include long development cycles, low levels of funding, stakeholder concerns, and foreign competition. Overcoming these challenges merits greater govern- ment attention than typically required for more mature materials markets” (ICAF, 2006, p. 10). The ICAF report recommended that the role of government regard- ing minerals in breakthrough markets should be to provide active sup- port for the development of the next generation of materials. Experts in the materials field view DoD as a key federal organization to coordinate and fund materials research, recommending additional research into the discovery and characterization of materials with unique or substantially improved properties (NRC, 2003). Defense leaders acknowledge this key role because “many emerging defense suppliers find it difficult to raise funds for military R&D and project opportunities” (DUSD(IP), 2003, p. B-8). While many stakeholders would welcome increased funding for ad- vanced materials research, a fiscally responsible initial step could prioritize 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives materials research endeavors to ensure that the nation’s most important requirements are met. Many government efforts specifically focus on innovative research in materials specialties. These efforts support a variety of worthwhile research in materials science. However, individual agencies award many of these grants on an individual or somewhat ad hoc basis that is not the product of a coordinated research strategy. In particular, they rarely address mineral information needs or consider mineral supply and demand data or critical- ity, either short or long term. The ICAF (2006) study is silent about the important question regard- ing the source or sources from which the information will come to conduct the recommended analysis and support the resulting mineral cycle cat- egorization. Studies going back many years have repeatedly made the case for a federally supported and funded program to collect and disseminate the mineral data necessary to make good policy decisions. The committee views materials research as an integrated part of the support for and use of high-quality mineral information and research; indeed, materials and mineral research complement one another, with mineral research and data collection providing information for breakthroughs in new materials; these breakthroughs provide new paths along which to view the dynamics of mineral criticality. THE PROFESSIONAL PIPELINE Highlighting the need for an innovative and educated workforce to ensure the nation’s continued growth and prosperity, the NRC (2007) report Ris- ing Above the Gathering Storm drew attention to the decreasing number of students being educated in all science and engineering fields in the United States and raised questions about the potential detrimental effect of this trend on future domestic technological innovation, manufacturing produc- tivity, and general economic well-being. Coupled with demographic trends that show a large, aging workforce and a disproportionately smaller number of younger persons able to replace these professionals as they retire (The Economist, 2006), the ability of the nation to respond to surges in demand 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY for qualified workers in industry, the federal government, and educational fields is suggested to be hampered if changes are not enacted in the national approach toward science and engineering education at all levels. While the demographic issue is a global phenomenon, mineral avail- ability over the longer term—in terms of both quantity and quality of re- sources—as discussed in this report depends importantly on specific types of resource professionals. More specifically, well-educated resource pro- fessionals are essential in industry, the federal government, and academic institutions for fostering the innovation that is necessary to ensure the availability of critical mineral resources at acceptable costs and with mini- mal environmental damage. These professionals include persons trained in what may be considered the more traditional fields of economic geology, mining engineering, and mineral processing engineering as well as persons in related specialties of resource analysis, resource economics, and environ- mental engineering. In the most recent decade, realization of the existence and magnitude of secondary resources in potentially recycled materials has added a need for two types of specialists not heretofore recognized or supported: product design engineers specializing in “design for recycling” and recycling technology engineers. By and large, only a handful of these “end-of-life” specialists exist worldwide, and those who exist were trained on the job rather than in dedicated academic programs. With the collapse of the job market for undergraduate and graduate students in the 1980s and 1990s in fields related to the mineral engineering disciplines, schools and programs in these fields have disappeared relatively quickly. In addition to the lack of mineral and mining engineers in training at universities and colleges, very few formal training programs exist in mate- rials recycling technology. While a number of highly qualified graduates in the general engineering disciplines, including environmental engineering, are being employed and making strong contributions to the mineral and mining industry, the skills and training for specific types of work in mining engineering, mineral economics, metallurgy, and recycling, for example, are not necessarily easily transferred, and on-the-job retraining between disciplines can be very demanding in terms of resources and time. 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives The private sector has underscored the need now for new graduates and midcareer persons with mining, geoscience, and/or engineering back- grounds to fill open positions in its organizations in all areas of research, exploration, production, health and safety, and environmental regulation and compliance (e.g., LeVier, 2007). Implicit in this report with regard to critical minerals is the added need to maintain adequate, accurate, and timely information and analysis on minerals at a national level in the federal government with additional, not fewer, professionals having appropriate backgrounds to perform the work. The committee did not conduct a for- mal survey of numbers of professionals with mineral- or material-related expertise in all federal agencies. Statistics available from the National Sci- ence Foundation (NSF, 2005) on the general employment trends in science and engineering in the federal government between the years 1998 and 2002 indicate that in the fields of geology, geophysics, mining engineer- ing, metallurgy, or more generally natural resource operations, the number of federal employees stayed roughly the same in all fields except metal- lurgy and mining engineering. In the latter two fields, a slight decrease was recorded across the entire federal government. These statistics did not provide, and were not designed to provide, a detailed breakdown within specific departments or offices of each agency, nor did they provide an indication of the types of work the individuals in these fields perform or their age demographic. The committee thus acknowledges and views with concern the lack of supply of persons with appropriate backgrounds in mineral- and material-related fields noted during the course of this study in discussions with the DoD, Department of Commerce, and Department of the Interior. For example, several years ago the Department of Commerce stan- dardized all of its position descriptions within its industry offices. The department made a concerted effort to hire “generalists” who could easily be assigned to several industries or reassigned between industries. As a result, specific industry experience or expertise was eliminated. In addi- tion, specific industry coverage was reduced: during the past 20 years the Department of Commerce eliminated the Copper, Lead/Zinc, Aluminum, Steel, and Miscellaneous Metals Divisions. These divisions were combined 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY into one Metals Division. Currently only four individuals are responsible for issues affecting metallic raw materials. Historically also, the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM), because of its mandate, had the highest concentration of mining-related professionals in the federal government. At one point, more than 1000 individuals, includ- ing project and support staff, were employed at the USBM. The closing of USBM in 1995 curtailed or terminated much of the government’s research activities related to mineral resources (M. Kaas, personal communication, March 2007), although data acquisition and dissemination remains as a high-quality but (the committee believes) underfunded program now at the Minerals Information Team within the USGS. Natural attrition and funding issues such as these, as well as administrative decisions on the part of the U.S. government, have compounded the existing demographic trend for groups like the Minerals Information Team. The organization has seen a decrease in staff levels of 29 percent since 1996, including a variety of mineral specialists, some of whom also contribute language in- terpretation skills for international mineral data in their global analyses. Thus, while the U.S. government is itself, to a large degree, responsible for its current staffing situation regarding mineral-related professionals, the fact that numerous federal agencies collect, use, and analyze mineral and mineral economic data, conduct mineral-related leasing or regulatory activities, work in mining engineering and mine safety projects, or perform mineral- and material-related research and analysis suggests that the num- ber of professionals in these fields has to be maintained or increased, not reduced, as natural attrition through retirement begins to take place given the demographics at these agencies. Although it is tempting to extrapolate these observations to private industry and academic sectors, as outlined more generally in the National Research Council report (2007), the committee did not have the time or purview to establish labor and training statistics in all mineral-related fields across the private, public, and academic sectors to make a broader statement, and that work is left for another study to assess in detail. How- ever, the committee would urge that implementing the conclusions and recommendations of this study occur simultaneously with examination 

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives of the workforce situation, including the appropriate number and skills of professionals needed and available to conduct effective work related to information gathering and research on critical minerals in a global, material-flow framework. The committee’s opinion is that present student levels and retirement trends at universities in several key mineral-related fields question the ca- pacity to meet future workforce requirements. Market responses may even- tually cover some of the apparent gap between demand for workers, and the supply of new hires to fill open positions in mineral-related fields, but the time lag between the beginning of the market response and the actual entry of educated and trained persons into these positions entails larger commitments than the market alone is able to address. SUMMARY AND FINDINGS This chapter has provided past legislative and executive references that have demonstrated support for comprehensive federal data collection as an integral part of both national policy and, specifically, national mineral policy. In its examination of federal statistical programs, the committee has found that while the total federal commitment to data collection is evident, the detail and depth to which a statistical agency or program can collect and disseminate accurate and timely data may depend on the agency or program’s autonomy, the resources it is allocated as a function of that autonomy, and the authority with which it is allowed to enforce collection of survey data. Federal mineral data collection does not currently have the same authority given to designated federal statistical agencies and, by that omission, may lack some of the authority this committee finds to be appropriate for the important task of collecting mineral information and its incorporation in decision making that affects the U.S. economy. In its functions and legislated authority, the EIA is provided as a potential example by which current federal minerals information collection could be strengthened and made more effective; this includes enforcement authority for mineral sur- vey responses and the autonomy to make professional decisions regarding publication style and frequency for critical minerals. 

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY In terms of sources for mineral data, information, and analysis, a large range of international, private, nongovernmental, and federal organizations or programs currently collect and disseminate such information at vari- ous levels. Both domestically and internationally, the committee did not find a more comprehensive source for mineral information today than the Minerals Information Team of the USGS. In view of the need to examine and determine mineral criticality within the framework of the complete mineral life cycle, the committee also suggests several additional types of mineral information that could be collected by the federal government and some research avenues that would be helpful to pursue in support of this type of data collection. The committee found further: • Fully federally supported mineral information collection and re- search is needed by the public and private sectors to ensure unbi- ased and thorough reporting of available data. • Accurate and timely mineral information with regard to factors affecting mineral availability in the short, medium, and long term is important to guide policy. • Mineral information collection and research in the federal govern- ment is less robust than it could be, in part because the minerals data collection program of the Minerals Information Team does not have the status of a principal statistical agency. • Many similarities exist between the function and form of the EIA and the Minerals Information Team, with the exception of the status of the EIA as a principal statistical agency with survey en- forcement authority and organizational autonomy. • Many international, private, nongovernmental, and federal govern- ment organizations, associations, and agencies supply various types of mineral information to the public, some for a fee. In the United States, the committee found unanimous agreement from private, academic, and federal professionals that the USGS Minerals Infor- mation Team is the premier source of mineral information, but that the quantity and depth of data have been reduced in recent years. 00

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives • Full information on the mineral life cycle, and the critical min- eral cycle particularly, requires information on recycling and scrap generation and inventories of old scrap; in-use stocks; reserves and resources; downstream uses; subeconomic resources; material flows; and international information in each of these areas. Federal mineral information collection presently does not include these factors. • Support of critical mineral information collection includes en- hanced research in such areas as theoretical geochemical research, extraction and processing technology, remanufacturing and recy- cling technology, and stocks and flows of materials. • Formal coordination and data exchange between federal agencies collecting mineral information is an objective to reduce redun- dancy and ensure transparency but is not currently fully effective. • A potential model for the collection of mineral information is de- scribed in the ICAF report, which suggests a mineral “life-cycle” approach that offers specific challenges to the mineral sector and requires flexible federal approaches to mineral policy at various stages of the cycle, based on consistent mineral data collection. • With respect to the professional pipeline of training to carry out the data gathering, analysis, research, and exploration needed to evaluate minerals and their criticality, industry, the government, and educational institutions face an existing and growing shortage of resource professionals entering the system. REFERENCES Anderson, M., and W. Seltzer, 2005. Federal statistical confidentiality and business data: Twentieth century challenges and continuing issues. Paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of the Popula- tion Association of America, New York, March 30. Cammarota, D., 2007. Presentation to the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Econ- omy. Washington, D.C., March 8. DeYoung, J. 2007. Presentation to the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy. Washington, D.C., March 8. 0

OCR for page 169
MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND ThE u.S. ECONOMY DUSD(IP) (Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Industrial Policy), 2003. Transforming the Defense Industrial Base: A Roadmap. Available online at http://www.acq.osd.mil/ip/docs/transforming_the_ defense_ind_base-report_only.pdf (accessed May 22, 2006). The Economist, 2006. Special Report: The ageing workforce. February 18:65-67. EIA (Energy Information Administration), 2006. Overview of the Energy Information Administration’s  National Energy Information System. Prepared in support of “Challenges, Choices, Changes: An External Study of the Energy Information Administration,” unpublished final report. Wash- ington, D.C. Ellis, M., 2007. Comment from the Industrial Minerals Association—North America, submitted to the committee, May 11. On file at the National Academies Public Access Records Office. ICAF (Industrial College of the Armed Forces), 2006. AY 2005-2006 Industry Study Final Report: Strategic Materials. Washington D.C.: National Defense University. 30 pp. Available online at http://www.ndu.edu/icaf/industry/reports/00/pdf/00_STRATEGIC_MATERIALS.pdf (ac- cessed June 27, 2007). LeVier, M., 2007. Presentation to the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy (teleconference). Washington, D.C., March 8. Murakami, S., 2007. Presentation to the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy. Washington, D.C., March 8. NRC (National Research Council), 2003. Future Challenges for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Mineral  Resources Program. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 139 pp. NRC, 2006. Improving Business Statistics Through Interagency Data Sharing: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 156 pp. NRC, 2007. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic  Future. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 592 pp. NSF (National Science Foundation), 2005. Federal Scientists and Engineers 1998-2002: Detailed Statistical Tables. Available online at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf00/pdf/nsf00.pdf  (accessed September 2007). OMB (Office of Management and Budget), 2007a. Strengthening Federal Statistics. Available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/statpolicy/strengthening_fed_stats_fy00.pdf (accessed November 14, 2007). OMB, 2007b. Statistical Programs of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2007. Washington, D.C.: Executive Office of the President. Available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/ inforeg/07statprog.pdf (accessed July 18, 2007). Shanks, W., 1983. Cameron Volume on Unconventional Mineral Deposits. Society of Economic Geolo- gists, Society of Mining Engineers, American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, 246 pp. U.S. Congress, House, 1974. Federal Energy Administration (FEA) Act. H.R. 11793. 93rd Congress. Public Law 93-275. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Congress, Senate, 1977. Department of Energy Organization Act. S.Doc. 826. 95th Congress. Public Law 95-91. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 0

OCR for page 169
Mineral Information and Possible Initiatives U.S. Congress, House, 1980. U.S. Minerals Vulnerability: National Policy Implications, A Report of the Subcommittee on Mines and Mining of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. 96th Congress, 2nd Session. USGS (U.S. Geological Survey), 2007. Mineral Information Team Information Handout. Available online at http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mit/mit.pdf (accessed July 3, 2007). 0

OCR for page 169